Written by Jyotsna Iyer, a second-year undergraduate student.
The Nigerian government banned Twitter in June 2021.
Why is that?
So, Twitter deleted a tweet made by the Nigerian President – Muhammadu Buhari. And the government didn’t like that!
Why did Twitter delete the tweet?
Twitter said that the tweet went against Twitter’s community guidelines.
What was the tweet about?
The deleted Tweet was targeted towards people in Southeast Nigeria who have been fighting for a separate state for themselves, and who oppose the government.
What did the President say?
The president threatened “those who wanted the government to fail,” meaning that a situation similar to the 1967 Civil War would arise and they would be dealt with military force.
The government also condemned the platform for not curbing the spread of hate speech and misinformation, and blamed it for civil unrest in Nigerian society.
The ban of Twitter in Nigeria was faced with varying responses from within and outside the nation.
Although established through an election, Buhari’s government is often criticised for being authoritarian.
The ban has been seen as an as an attack on the freedom of speech and expression that was unleashed to serve the ruling party’s interests of maintaining power.
On the other hand, many such as the politician Donald Trump congratulated the move saying that it was in best interests of the nation. Donald Trump’s Twitter account was suspended in 2021 was his activity on Twitter threatened the nation’s democracy and incited violence.
In addition to the ban being seen as an attack on the freedom of expression, it also disrupted the lives of a large portion of the 39 million Nigerians on Twitter who used the platform for professional, networking and business needs and adversely affected the nation’s economy.
Removing the ban
The ban on Twitter was revoked on 12 January, 2022. The authorities stated that the platform had agreed to its conditions including “legal registration of operations, taxation, and managing prohibited publication in line with Nigerian laws.”
Lifting of the ban was met with a sigh of relief from Nigerian twitter users, journalists who used the platform as a source of information and human rights bodies across the globe.
The hashtag that was speculated to be one of the reasons of the initial ban itself: ‘#EndSARS’ flooded the platform once again soon after the move. However, many were sceptical of the move and suggested that the ban was lifted merely in order to serve the interests of the ruling party in the upcoming 2023 elections, by gaining sympathies of the public and reinstating a platform for campaigning.
The right to access digital communication platforms is seen as a subsection of the freedom of speech and expression, which is an integral pillar of any democratic society. Those in power have often sought to establish authority by curbing the public’s access to these platforms, as seen in the case of this ban. It also posed the question of whether the government.
Where is Nigeria?
Nigeria is a country in western Africa.